I spent this Sunday at a place called Lavonne for a day of bread making. Kneading flour and getting covered in it was not exactly how I wanted to spend a precious Sunday. I am a home cook who has, after 3 years of owning a Convection Oven cum microwave, started to use it. To date I have baked 2 cakes (which turned out surprisingly well – even though I wasn’t following any recipe on the second one) and 3 batches of cookies – which didn’t look like cookies! So knowing my love for cooking, a colleague of mine booked herself and me into this class. I had said yes thinking it would be just a couple of hours; therefore the cribbing! However, in spite of having had to stand from 10AM to 4PM, I ended up loving every bit of the class.
We had a fabulous instructor – Chef Avin, who patiently explained everything to us, peppering the session with his humor and trivia behind each bread.
The main reason why we enjoyed the class was the passion of Chef Avin – his passion came across in buckets and it was a pleasure to learn from him. He wasn’t just an instructor there, I’d prefer to use the term they use on their website – a facilitator…sharing his knowledge & love for food, and trying to awaken the same passion in us. His last words as we were leaving was “Now on, you people should appreciate the Art of bread making every time you eat bread, and don’t use a knife on it – break it with your hands and eat it!”
I am a fan – a complete fan! Of baking and bread making. Its funny, I took a course in Handcrafted Artisan Bread and now I want to go back for basic classes. I most definitely will (Note the positive reaffirmations to myself to remind me not to be lazy) be back here with more posts on breads and baking. That is, if I can get my butt off from my couch and haul it across town to Lavonne.
This was my first cooking class ever and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Watching Chef Avin at work was like watching an artiste, a maestro at work… as he lovingly kneaded each set of dough, explaining in detail why we were doing each thing. Another picture that came to mind on seeing Chef Avin, with his apprentices was of a surgeon with his attending interns in tow and it certainly was like that, with the same respect and love.
Through the food so ye shall know people and lands, said the great Lazy Traveller!
The breads that we made that day was from five different countries. We started with the Partybrot, which is from Germany, much like our Pavs and we also learnt to make the Soft Rolls from the same dough – twisting, braiding and rolling them. The next one was the Sourdough. Though it is believed to have originated in Egypt, this one took us to San Fransico with all the stories of how it developed and the fascinating trivia behind the Biga or the Starter Dough.
The next stop was Paris and Notre-Dame for the famous Baguettes and intriguing stories of the Baguettes and its makers in French history. It was interesting to learn that Baguette making was almost a ceremony and that its followed strict rules. Hah! And, I used to think its ‘just’ bread. Now from the street cafes of Paris we go across to Italy; Puglia to be precise to sample the Pugliese bread, which is a kind of an Italian hearth bread; humble and crusty and works well as a sandwich or a dipping bread. Having wandered in the peninsula of Puglia, we now head off to western Asia to sample the Lavash, which is like our crackers and can be savory or seasoned with sesame seeds and so on. Traditionally baked in a clay oven like the tandoor, we can roll it out thin and bake it at home in our ovens.
Thus, Chef Avin, took us on a culinary journey which lasted for a few hours and opened the doors of bread making to us.
I personally recommend this weekend class to everyone because, it’s a different kind of joy to be making bread (there is a lot of hard work involved) and also because of the young facilitators out there who try to make you love food the way they love it!
I could have shared the recipes here, but then, that takes the joy out of going to Lavonne to find out. To get your hands dusty with flour and have that great joy of biting into a warm piece of bread that you yourself made and the joy & pride of bringing it home to your loved ones.
PS: The pictures arent of the best quality, because they have been taken on my phone.